Big BMA 2020 Winners Resonate With Memphis History

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Mavis Staples - MYRIAM SANTOS
  • Myriam Santos
  • Mavis Staples
Time seemed to stand still as the 2020 Blues Music Awards unfolded on our screens yesterday: Nominees' home-recorded performances captured on cell phones, and comments from prominent members of the music world, mixed with unique flashbacks from prior years’ awards shows, featuring luminaries such as Dr. John, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Koko Taylor, Honeyboy Edwards, Luther Allison, Rufus Thomas, Ruth Brown, and B. B. King.

It was an all-online gala, with Shemekia Copeland hosting from her home. The live-streamed event was archived and can still be seen on Facebook and YouTube.

Yet the connection with history went beyond archival footage. Some of this year's winners were seasoned veterans, embodying the living tradition of the blues more surely than any film footage. None other than Mavis Staples, so associated with the gospel and soul she cut at Stax Records and elsewhere, cemented her place in the blues with a win for Best Vocalist. And Bobby Rush took home the award for Best Soul Blues Album, a useful bookend to his 2017 Grammy for Porcupine Meat.

Christone "Kingfish" Ingram
  • Christone "Kingfish" Ingram
But, as if to prove that the blues are constantly being reborn, the biggest wins were scored by relative newcomer Christone "Kingfish" Ingram, of Clarksdale, Mississippi, who won  five statues, three for his debut album, Kingfish, as Best Emerging Artist Album, Best Contemporary Blues Album, and Album of the Year, along with two performer awards as Best Contemporary Blues Male Artist and for Instrumentalist-Guitar. Nick Moss and his band featuring Dennis Gruenling were also big winners with three awards: Band of the Year; Traditional Blues Album, for Lucky Guy!; and Moss personally in the Song of the Year category for his composition “Lucky Guy.” Last year’s Soul Blues Male Artist award winner, Sugaray Rayford, claimed that prize again this year along with the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year award.
Shemekia Copeland hosted, and won for Best Contemporary Female Vocalist
  • Shemekia Copeland hosted, and won for Best Contemporary Female Vocalist
Below is a more complete list of the winners, who continue to prove the resilience and necessity of the blues in these trying times. Bravo to one and all for adapting to the demands of physical distancing to make this a unique online event.

B.B. King Entertainer of the Year
Sugaray Rayford



Album of the Year
Kingfish, Christone "Kingfish" Ingram

Band of the Year
The Nick Moss Band feat. Dennis Gruenling

Song of the Year
“Lucky Guy,” written by Nick Moss

Best Emerging Artist Album
Kingfish, Christone "Kingfish" Ingram

Acoustic Blues Album
This Guitar and Tonight, Bob Margolin

Acoustic Blues Artist
Doug MacLeod

Blues Rock Album
Masterpiece, Albert Castiglia

Blues Rock Artist
Eric Gales

Contemporary Blues Album
Kingfish, Christone "Kingfish" Ingram

Contemporary Blues Female Artist
Shemekia Copeland

Contemporary Blues Male Artist
Christone "Kingfish" Ingram

Historical Blues Album
Cadillac Baby's Bea & Baby Records - Definitive Collection, Earwig Music

Soul Blues Album
Sitting on Top of the Blues, Bobby Rush

Soul Blues Female Artist
Bettye LaVette

Soul Blues Male Artist
Sugaray Rayford

Traditional Blues Album
Lucky Guy!, The Nick Moss Band Featuring Dennis Gruenling

Traditional Blues Female Artist
Sue Foley

Traditional Blues Male Artist
Jimmie Vaughan

Instrumentalist Bass
Michael "Mudcat" Ward

Instrumentalist Drums
Cedric Burnside

Instrumentalist Guitar
Christone "Kingfish" Ingram

Instrumentalist Harmonica
Rick Estrin

Instrumentalist Horn
Vanessa Collier

Instrumentalist Piano
Victor Wainwright

Instrumentalist Vocals
Mavis Staples

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